Staying in the Light of God's Love, Mercy and Truth

02-28-2021From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

The older we get, the more knowledge we acquire, the more responsibilities we have, and the more concerns we have about situations and things we cannot control. We don’t have all the answers and we don’t know in detail what the future will be like. Where do we find peace? In the Gospel for today’s Mass (Mark 9:2-10), we see Jesus taking Peter, James, and John up a mountain and revealing His heavenly glory to them. Not only do they see what He is doing with His preaching, teaching, and healing, they now see Him in His heavenly glory. Not only is Jesus transfigured, two key people from centuries past appear: Moses and Elijah. As wondrous as this encounter was for Peter, James, and John, their wonder and awe would turn to absolute confusion and fear when they saw Jesus arrested and crucified. Where did they find peace?

It is not where they found peace that is important, but the one they found peace in: Jesus. Becoming totally one with us in our humanity, Jesus was subject to the limitations, rejection, and disappointment of both His enemies and those who had great faith and hope in Him. As “adult,” independent, and resourceful as we are, we need one another to bring out the best in us. Even more, we need Jesus to bring out the best in us. That will only happen when we put our faith and hope in Him. Each time I celebrate a Baptism, I read the passage from Mark 10:13-16 where Jesus says, “Let the children come to me, do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” I look at the infants in the arms of their parents and point out how peaceful, secure, and content they are. How peaceful, content, and secure do we feel in the arms of God?

As we go through our childhood experiences, we have the security of our parents’ love. There are so many things we do not know or understand, but that doesn’t matter because our parents are our security. The trust children have in their parents is a beautiful example of the trust we are invited to have in God. Through, with, and in Jesus we come into the light of the power of sacrifice, humility, forgiveness, reconciliation, and unconditional love. The Jesus who was transfigured in front of Peter, James, and John is the same Jesus who forgives our sins in the Sacrament of Penance and comes into our very being in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. What can we do to be enveloped in the wonder and awe that surrounded Peter, James, and John on the mountain of the Transfiguration? The answer is clear: never leave the light of His love, mercy, and truth. His words in John 14:6 are: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We come to the Father not just through Him, but with Him and in Him.

The messages we are constantly bombarded with every day can easily draw us into situations and thoughts that are tedious and difficult. Even on the cross, Jesus had faith, hope, and love. He is the light that illumines the way to peace. There is no other light. Without Jesus we only grope about in the darkness of unrest, tension, and anxiety. May today’s Gospel open our minds and hearts to the light and power of God’s guiding Spirit of forgiveness, love, and joy. More than situations and problems that seem insurmountable, we have the one whose presence gives us the peace and security to live and persevere with confidence, hope, and security.

I offer Psalm 27 for your prayerful reflection:

The Lord is my light and my help;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink?

When evildoers draw near to devour my flesh,
it is they, my enemies and foes,
who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me
my heart would not fear.
Though war break out against me
even then would I trust.

There is one thing I ask of the Lord,
for this I long, to live in the house of the Lord,
all the days of my life, to savor the sweetness
of the Lord, to behold his temple.

For there he keeps me safe in his tent
in the day of evil.
He hides me in the shelter of his tent,
on a rock he sets me safe.

O Lord, hear my voice when I call;
have mercy and answer.
Of you my heart has spoken:
"Seek his face.”

It is your face, O Lord, that I seek;
hide not your face. Dismiss not your servant in anger;
you have been my help.

Do not abandon or forsake me, O God my help!
Though father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.

Instruct me, Lord, in your way;
on an even path lead me.
When they lie in ambush,
protect me from my enemy's greed.
False witnesses rise against me,
breathing out fury.

I am sure I shall see the Lord's goodness
in the land of the living.
Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.
Hope in the Lord!
And now my head shall be raised
above my foes who surround me,
and I shall offer within his tent a sacrifice of joy.
I will sing and make music for the Lord.